A five-year dispute between the territorial government and one of its former employees has come to an end.
Donn MacDougall, a former manager with the Department of Justice from 2006 to 2014, was still receiving automated emails to his personal email through PeopleSoft, the territorial government’s human resources software months after his employment ended.
Because he was previously a manager with the department, he had access to sensitive information, such as employees’ pay raises and time off.
Earlier this year, he posted screenshots of that sensitive information on his website before the GNWT ordered him to take it down — the first time.
MacDougall said he felt his unauthorized access to this information constituted a breach of employees’ privacy, so in late 2017, he filed a complaint with the Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) of the Northwest Territories who in turn investigated and made recommendations in a report.
In February, Martin Goldney, deputy minister of the Department of Justice, stated the department had agreed to and implemented all the recommendations from the IPC’s report, except the final one.
“The former employee was specifically asked to return the personal information he had accessed without authorization, or to confirm destruction of the information,” stated Goldney at the time, adding that the department had applied for a court order directing him to do so.
After receiving that court order from the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta on March 20, MacDougall said he has now destroyed/surrendered all personal information he acquired through the government’s human resources software after his employment ended.
“The GNWT and I have agreed that my continuing access to the personal information of GNWT employees in PeopleSoft following the my (sic) end of employment was ‘due to irregularities in PeopleSoft,’ and the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta has agreed with our agreement on this point,” MacDougall wrote on his website, www.infobreach.ca.
“It is unfortunate that the GNWT had to take the legal steps it did, after the refusal of Mr. MacDougall to accept the recommendation of the Privacy Commissioner and return or destroy the records he accessed and retained,” Goldney stated on Thursday.
“Nevertheless, the GNWT is pleased that after filing an application with the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, conducting an examination of Mr. MacDougall on his affidavit, and filed materials with the court that Mr. MacDougall agreed to consent to an order requiring that the records be returned or destroyed.”
MacDougall said the government sued him, they settled and he’s done — for now.
“I consider the matter resolved,” MacDougall told Yellowknifer via email.
Similarly, the department said it now considers the Information and Privacy Commissioner’s recommendations implemented.
“The Department does not anticipate a need to take further steps and anticipates that Mr. MacDougall will comply with the order granted by the Court,” stated deputy minister Goldney in an email.